Respiratory infections have significant effects on childhood asthma. Viral respiratory infections, such as rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus are likely to be important in the development and exacerbation of asthma. In this study, we investigated the nasopharyngeal colonization in children with asthma to determine the prevalence of pathogens and their contribution to respiratory symptoms and airway resistance during winter.
From December 2016 to March 2017, 50 nasopharyngeal specimens were collected from 18 patients (age, 5.0±1.1 years) with asthma and 9 specimens from 9 control children (age, 4.9±1.0 years). Samples were tested for 19 viruses and 7 bacteria, using multiplex real-time PCR. Respiratory disease markers included the Global Asthma Network Questionnaire, the Common-Cold Questionnaire, the Global Initiative for Asthma assessment of asthma control, and the airway resistance at 5 Hz by forced-oscillation technique.
The most commonly isolated organisms in both groups (patients and controls) were Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and rhinovirus. Most patients had multiple isolates (median, 3.5; range, 1–5), which changed during the study period. Types of isolates were 4 bacteria (S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, Bordetella pertussis, and Bordetella parapertussis) and 6 viruses (rhinovirus, enterovirus, metapneumovirus, adenovirus, coronaviruses, and parainfluenza viruses). Similar isolates, including influenza A-H3 virus and bocavirus, were detected in the controls. Of the 9 patients with “wheezing disturbing sleep ≥1 per week”, 6 had rhinovirus, 2 coronaviruses, and 1 no detectable viruses. Patients with mild common cold symptoms had significantly higher airway resistance at 5 Hz z-score (P=0.025).
Multiple respiratory pathogens were isolated from many patients with asthma, which appeared to contribute to disease symptoms and airway resistance. Minimizing children’s exposure to respiratory pathogens might be beneficial, especially during winter.